Choosing a zimmer (pronounced tsimmer) in northern Israel is not that easy - there are so many to choose from! If you've never stayed in one before, I will try to give you as much information as I can so you know what to expect. If this is not your first time, you may want to skip to my family's favourites - and why we chose them.
Basically, it's a bed and breakfast - but with an Israeli twist. There are hundreds of them in the Galilee and the Golan. Some people have built one or two guest rooms as an additional source of income and many kibbutzim and moshavim (farming settlements) offer country lodgings on a larger scale and generally have swimming pools and amenities for the children.
The accommodations are usually rustic, quite often made of wood or natural stone, and the emphasis is on getting close to nature. Green Tourism is something that is growing slowly in Israel and there are already several eco-friendly lodgings in the north (and the south) of the country.
As more and more zimmers have sprung up all over northern Israel, the competition to have the biggest and best amenities or the most original theme has grown. But even the most basic cabin has everything you will find in a regular hotel room like towels, sheets and blankets.
Just because you are in the countryside, it doesn't mean you're cut off from the rest of the world. There's usually satellite or cable TV, a DVD and Internet connection.
Many accommodations have a jacuzzi inside and some have an outdoor hot tub and/or a swimming pool. The Galilee is a great place to chill out and unwind and many zimmers offer wellness treatments.
So this is an opportunity to pamper yourself with a relaxing hot stones massage, shiatsu, reflexology or any other spa therapy of your choice!
A full Israeli breakfast is quite often optional and well worth the extra expense - around 100 shekels. You usually get much more than you can possibly eat!
Breakfast usually comprises eggs, fresh salad, bread, cheeses and spreads, plus home-made specialities and local delicacies depending on where you go.
You usually get your breakfast brought to your cabin or guest room and I love to eat it on the balcony while enjoying the fresh air and taking in the breathtaking views. On kibbutzim, breakfast is served in most sites in the kibbutz members' dining room.
There's a kitchenette for making light meals and sometimes an area for doing a barbecue outside. But, if you're anything like me, one of the best things about going away is NOT having to prepare your own meals. There are plenty of cool eateries serving local delicacies dotted around the Galilee. Many of them are reasonably-priced if you get away from the tourist spots.
This is much like the question, "How long is a piece of string?" Prices vary greatly according to size, facilites and style (of which there are many!).TIP!
It's usual to have a midweek rate and a weekend rate. You can pay as little as 400 shekels a night midweek but at the weekend the price is 100-150 shekels higher and there may be a 2-night minimum stay.
Rates are always quoted for double occupancy and include VAT. Some places include breakfast in the price and some don't. There is usually an addition for children sharing a room.
In recent years "luxury" zimmers have become a fashionable option. So, if you're looking for privacy but want the comfort of a deluxe hotel, you can expect to pay 1,200 shekels a night and up.
There's nothing better than other people's personal experience - read about my family's favourites ...
Well, there you have it. The complete guide to choosing your zimmer. All that's left now is to relax and enjoy!
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